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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

Buhari: What He Saw There…

Posted: Jun 22, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


On a routine visit to old soldier Jumbo, I ran into his grandson, James. James is in nursery school and he was visiting his granddad for the holidays.  He is a jolly good fellow, but a little talkative – like Jumbo. Perhaps it runs in the family.  James sidled over to me and jumped into my lapse. We exchange pleasantries.

I asked after his school, and that was a mistake. He decided to show me what a great student he was.  He asked me whether I could recite the nursery rhyme, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” I obliged him. Then he asked me whether I could sing the song, “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” I replied that the girl in my class, whom we used to call Mary, but whose real name was Rosemary, never had a little lamb, and if she did, she never brought it to school neither did she talk to anybody about it. I explained to him that I was not aware of any other Mary who had a little lamb, talk less of the lamb’s fleece being white as snow. In other words – I would rather not sing what would constitute a lie. I was being evasive. The truth of the matter is that I was convinced that I had the worst singing voice in the world until the day I heard old soldier Jumbo sing the old Army combat song, “Ballad of the Green Berets.”

Little James never gives up. He thought about that for some time, then he asked me “Uncle Mike, did you have a well in the primary school you attended?” I replied that we had a big well, and it was over at the back of the school and we used to fetch water there. He nodded understandingly, then he asked “Did this your Mary used to go the well.” I answered, “Sure, everyone used to go the well. We all went to the well from time to time.” Then the little fox went for the home run and caught me napping, “Uncle Mike, can you recite Rosemary Bell?”

Though I was certain that my former classmate, Rosemary’s surname, was not “Bell,” I decided to play the game. For sure she used to go to the well and she never told us everything she saw, though I must admit we never used to ask.  So I was on the square. I recited it: Rosemary Bell/ Went to the well/ What she saw there/ No one can tell/ she washed her hands/ Wiped them dry/ Saw what she saw/ And jumped up high.

He was impressed. He then asked me what the poem was all about. He wanted to know if my Rosemary actually went to the well and what possibly could she have seen and failed to tell people. I told him that in my time you never asked questions like that – you were trained to be seen not to be heard. Teachers used to carry canes and would use the cane first and tell you what you did wrong after. So we never had the opportunity to ask the teacher anything; neither was Rosemary a sociable type that one could have discussed the issue with. She was a pugnacious tomboy.

Jumbo interjected: “Son, many times, people see things and fail to describe them well. I can improvise that poem and relate it to a current development. Here we go: ‘Mohammedu Bu/Went to West Germany/ Who he saw there/ No one can tell/ He polished his shoes/ Wiped them clean/ Saw who he saw/ And jumped into a plane.”

“Who is Mohammadu Bu?” James asked.

Jumbo is a bundle of mischiefs. President Mohammadu Buhari had gone to Germany and when he returned he said he met with President Michelle of West Germany. Oh my God! Jumbo simplified the matter, “na so he ‘walka’ come from Germany alone, and said he went to West Germany. This Germany we are talking – there is God o!”

Well no one can tell what happened in Germany but the truth is that there has been no West Germany since 1990 (25 years ago). It was in this year that West Germany and East Germany re-united to become one Germany. Then again Germany has always had a chancellor. The name of the chancellor who Buhari met is Angela Merkel – not Michelle. Germany has a ceremonial president in the person of Joachim Gauck but this was not the person Buhari met.

But I do not blame President Buhari because this was a simple case of a Freudian slip. His mind was obviously on Michelle Obama, the current American First Lady. Not that Michelle looks like Angela – the former is a Black African-American and the latter is Caucasian. One is a First Lady and the other is a Chancellor. Buhari’s campaign received a lot of boost from the man who managed President Barrack Obama’s campaign – so you can understand his infatuation with the Obama’s. Says Jumbo, “Well it is okay. I would have been outraged if he had referenced Angela Merkel as Michelle Obama of Germany. But he did not, so nothing spoil. Come to think of it, Michelle is a more poetic name than Merkel which sounds like mackerel – a can of tin fish we used to eat in school.”

Jumbo pointed out that just as I did not know whether Mary had a little lamb, so Buhari may not have known that the Berlin Wall was brought down in 1990 (25 years ago). He accused Buhari and I of the same level of ignorance and said lack of knowledge of a wall coming down was as wrong as lack of knowledge of whether a friend had a lamb.

Then it suddenly dawned on James what may have happened to Rosemary Bell saw. Says James, who had been listening to us, “Perhaps Rosemary Bell saw something which had gone sour for 25 years, washed it off her hands, wiped them dry and jumped (into an airplane).” That settles it, I figure.